When we were growing up we were told the United States was a melting pot where people of all cultures came for a new beginning, a better life for them and their families. It may have been that once. It's not any longer.
The immigrant who suffered to get here, had a clean bill of health and a sponsor willing to vouch for his worth has been replaced by an entitled immigrant, legal or otherwise, who believes that America is here for the taking. There is no longer a banishment of speaking a native tongue in order that the family assimilate into American society and become American.
That was the dedication of those once immigrants who wanted nothing more than to be Americans. I'm not an advocate of losing a language or a culture when an immigrant comes here, not at all. There are amazing advantages for those who are bilingual. And without the cultural elements they bring I would lose many of my favorite foods!
As we grew older the metaphor became that of a salad where the ingredients retained their own characteristics while becoming a part of the bigger whole. That, too, seemed to work for a while. The salad blend was refreshing, had a distinct flavor and was still uniquely American.
In today's atmosphere of dissension, even some of the originally "American" elements have a flavor that distracts from, even works to destroy, the whole. If the onion is too hot the sweetness of the spinach is lost. The salad is less than it could be. Like a body that does not not function the same with damaged or missing parts, the salad needs all of its elements in the right blend to be what it should be.
Instead of working together for the good of the whole, the various elements are working for their own, selfish goals of being all they can be without regard for the other parts or the overall health of the whole.
Whether they are right or left, north or south, English or Spanish speaking, light or dark skinned, or any other difference we could name, the concept of the whole is being lost. That's devastating to this nation.
Maybe what we need is a clear understanding of just who we are, from where we came, and yet find a way to still be the better whole. And maybe we do that by not tearing down the monuments that remind us of that time past or fighting with each other over who deserves or gets respect and learn to respect each other and those differences that make us unique, but part of the greater whole.
And maybe that blending together comes from recognizing that we we live in an amazing country that is worth preserving, worth sacrificing self and standing for the rights that are here for each of us. And when we attain that individually, maybe that understanding becomes the dressing that brings the salad together for one great, unique, perfectly balanced mixture where we own our individualism and are willing to sacrifice to defend the rights of those who are different from us, but are still Americans.
If our leadership was like that we'd see no more meetings where banning symbols of America's history was even a discussion, much less a divisive attempt at raising one segment of society above another. We would recognize that each segment has a unique history that is honored in different ways and allow people to live and let live without trampling on each other.
And then maybe we could focus for a change on being the dressing that allows each element to be itself while bringing them all together into a blend that can attain greatness.